“Those that know their salvation live by loving God and loving people” -TIU, 5/1/12
This is a quote from my undergrad classroom days at Trinity International University (TIU), Understanding the Old Testament course. We were studying the prophetic books and were reminded about how our salvation is 100% secure in Christ Jesus, and how those that know their salvation live by loving God and loving people because people (all kinds of people) are valuable to Him. However, since my graduation in the fall of 2013, I’ve learned that this is not the case when it comes to people with disabilities. In fact, these individuals are easily the most overlooked population, often out-casted, and poorly served.
There are some 785 million people living with a disability in the world. United States alone is home to nearly 20% of adults (1 in 5 people) who have some type of Disability1. Locally in South Florida, the percentages are slightly higher than the national average ranging from 22% to 30%2. Of these individuals with disabilities, 1 in 4 are women and 3 in 10 are non-Hispanic blacks. In addition, 4 in 10 of these adults have not completed high school, and 1 in 3 are unemployed adults with disability3. United States is also home to an estimated 20.3 million (29%) families that have at least one member with a disability4.
In most cases, the complexity of raising a child who requires 24/7 care often debilitates a family to the point of breakage. The data shows that when it comes to Parents of children with ADHD and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder (disabilities often characterized by extreme, inappropriate, and aggressive behaviors), the divorce rates are almost two times (an average 23% vs. 13%) higher than the general and other special needs population.5
As if these statistics weren’t enough, I’ve also come to learn that children with disabilities are 4 to 10 times more likely to be abused (physically, sexually, emotionally and mentally) than their peers without disabilities6 and although these are facts that tug at God’s heart, the Church of God is rarely known for assisting. In fact, individuals affected by disability are one of the greatest unchurched communities7; not because they don’t care for God but because the Christian community is not reaching out as our Good Samaritan exemplified (Luke 10).
God showed me this truth and stirred my heart towards this cause, so much so…that here we are. It is our love for God that drives With Everything Inc to compassionate love for those affected by disabilities; to advocate on their behalf and to do everything within our power to love them as Christ demands we ought to love. You will find this theme drives our mission, vision, values, and programs because He is the heart and driving force behind With Everything.
- 7Beyond Suffering: A Christian view on disability Ministry, 2011, Joni and Friends, p.201